The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Is Chipanga Shooting Himself in the Foot?

HOSIAH CHIPANGA-MWENJE NERIMA ( Resource: Hosiah Chipanga - Mwenje Nerima

Last month, Mutare-based Hosiah Chipanga, a.k.a. the "Sungura Godfather", publicly announced that he could shelve his music career citing piracy as the major reason. He added that he would only release an album after piracy was dealt with.

The musician-cum-prophet, who released his 25th album last month, said it was unwise for him to release another album as he was not getting anything from it.

Some of his fans view this move as unwise. They say that it is better for Chipanga to release an album and get something rather than not to release and get nothing.

They cite successful musicians like Oliver Mtukudzi who continue to release albums and manage to sell them, as examples of how it can be done. Others suggest that he should approach iTunes or the recently formed Jive Zimbabwe Music Agency for the distribution of his music. That way, he will definitely get something out of his releases. Alternatively, if he wants to fight piracy himself, he could employ his band members to act as pirates who will stand in street corners and sell fake Hosiah Chipanga CDs for a dollar each.

The fake CDs will only play the first two songs. After that, they stop playing and the disappointed customer will learn not to buy CDs from the street, as he cannot take them back to the seller.

Even if he does, he will have to deal with the pirates themselves and that way also help Hosiah to fight piracy. That way, the public will know not to buy CDs from street corners but music stores and record bars where there is recourse should the CD fail to play.

However, Chipanga -- who is also the leader of the MAPIPI (Messiah's Apostolic Prophetic Inspired People's Institute) Church -- said he would no longer release an album until God asked him to do so.

"I have decided to shelve all my forthcoming albums then keep them as part of my will with my lawyers so that my family will release them when there will be no piracy. It's better that way instead of working for fraudsters who are reaping where they did not sow.

"This is what I am going to do. If I release an album, it will be for free, but for now the nation must know that I have done my part and because of piracy I am going to stop releasing albums," he emphasised.

The new album released last month is titled "Dzorai Vana" and that could be the last we will hear from Hosiah if he sticks to his word as I do not see piracy going away soon despite efforts by the Zimbabwe Music Rights Association and other organisations to curb it.

Today, Zimura are in an extraordinary meeting at the Zimbabwe College of Music to discuss piracy as well as unpaid royalties by ZBC. It is difficult to imagine that this meeting will succeed in curbing piracy, but when many heads come together, a solution may be easier found. We hope that this meeting will assist in resolving Chipanga's problem as his albums and courageous words are inspiring to many of his fans.

He has in the past churned out hits such as "Vapange Chipanga", "Kwachu Kwachu", "Nyamututa", "Ndagaya" and "Shinda Isina Tsono", among others.

Moreover, if other musicians also decide to follow suit and stop releasing albums, then the country would be stuck without any new local music on air.

That aside, Chipanga has made another controversial move and has stunned his multitude of fans after he launched a church at his house a few months ago. He has declared that he is one of the best prophets in the country.

He has also suggested that his church is going to be bigger than that of Prophet Makandiwa. Rumours are abound that he has lodged an application for land with Mutare City Council where he hopes to build his church.

Some people might see this move as crazy, but many crazy dreams have turned out to be success stories for others. We sincerely hope Chipanga's dream will come true.

In another controversial move, Chipanga has declared that the new radio stations, Star FM and Zi-FM are not going to help musicians any more than ZBC does. He says that ZBC banned his music from airplay. He has dismissed hopes that the new radio stations will bring change to the airwaves, saying they are merely serving the interests of politicians rather than that of musicians.

"Unless DJs are given the freedom to play music of their choice or what the listeners want, we have no reason to celebrate. When my music was banned from ZBC, it was not the DJs who were at fault, but rather their paymasters who restricted them. So until we have new stations which are apolitical and which focus on entertainment, then musicians will have no reason to celebrate," said Chipanga.

The question to ask is whether Hosiah is being misunderstood or is just being controversial.

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